Thursday, December 10, 2009

the never-ending story

i wanted to be a journalist ever since i had my first byline in the fifth grade. from that moment on, i could never imagine doing anything else.

being a journalist influenced almost every decision i made: what classes to take, what summer camps to go to, what books to read, what college to attend, what major to have, what people to admire, what internships to apply for.

my name in print, it was all i ever wanted. going to work every day at my first real job at a

big(ish) daily newspaper felt like a dream come true.

i wanted to be a journalist because i believe in the power of stories. i believe that stories can teach us. they can touch us. they can change us, hopefully for the better but sometimes for the worse.

when we know people's stories, i believe that we understand those people better. when we can tell our own stories, we find a firmer place to stand in our communities, our spheres, our identities.

stories are a way to get our heads around topics that are big, scary, controversial, easy to ignore. stories shed light. stories elicit action.

in short, stories make up our lives.

to tell people's stories, it was all i ever wanted. the chance to tell people's stories was a dream come true.

the one problem with dreams though is that they are, by definition, not always reality. and the journalism of my dreams did not account for industry instability, massive layoffs, constant worry, or the glenn beck takeover.

and so i felt in my heart that it was time to make a new dream, time to take what living my dream had taught me and put it somewhere else. it felt sad, but it felt right.

i still think of myself as a journalist, though. or at least as a storyteller. and i still believe that the best of my dream is true. i still believe that stories make people better, make governments more honest, make life more fair.

i still believe.

which is why i was over-the-moon thrilled when my friend, cristi, invited me to serve on the board of directors of her non-profit organization, the press institute. (goal #28, check!)

through the press institute, women and men around the world, from mexico to nepal to nigeria, are trained to tell the stories that matter most to them. they write about AIDS and poverty and human trafficking. they write about the triumph of decency and the human spirit. they develop skills that enrich their lives and earn money that supports their families.

stories are making their lives better.

and you can help make their lives better, too.

right now, any money donated to the press institute will be matched, dollar for dollar. your $10 becomes $20, your $20 becomes $40, your $50 becomes $100, and that can change someone's life.

at this christmas season especially, consider giving to the press institute in the name of a journalist you love. (like me!) i will personally send you a thank you card if you do. and if you need still more persuasion, check out this article, which argues (among other things) that charitable giving is the best form of gift giving.

because the only thing better than a good story is a happy ending, right?


Popster said...

Since life is a series of stories (a sentiment with which I agree), permit me to tell three stories on Frances that give some context to her desire to become a journalist.

Story 1. Frances indeed did decide to become a journalist in the fifth grade. Her teacher was a character named Mike Tribe. Mr. Tribe assigned Frances to interview the director (essentially the principal) of the American School of Madrid. As the story goes, Frances was scared spitless, but walked into the director's office with questions and notebook in hand, conducted the interview and wrote the story. Frances' life as a journalist was launched.

Story 2. Frances attended high school in Midland, Michigan, where she was active on the school newspaper, eventually becoming editor-in-chief (and, as a side note, the school newspaper won a bunch of national awards, and Frances was selected as the outstanding journalism student for the State of Michigan). Frances decided that the school newspaper should run an article on class sizes at Dow High. As part of the story, Frances interviewed certain members of the school administration. This will not come as a surprise that Frances took an edgy approach. And, to her glee, Frances actually was banned from entering the school administration building after the article was printed.

Story 3. The big(ish) daily newspaper for which Frances worked was the Salt Lake Tribune. She wrote stories for the local inserts. Frances worked for the Tribune for about a year. At one point during her tenure, someone mentioned how many stories another co-worker had written (20 or something like that). Then it came to light that, in the same time period, Frances had written 83stories.

Frances the journalist.

David's Holla Atchya! Blog said...

I don't think you have to give up your dreams until your dead. You're on a Board of Directors? Wow.